The effect of calcium citrate on bone density in the early and mid-postmenopausal period: a randomized placebo-controlled study

Am J Ther. 1999 Nov;6(6):303-11. doi: 10.1097/00045391-199911000-00004.


This placebo-controlled randomized trial was conducted to ascertain the value of calcium citrate supplementation in averting bone loss in 63 postmenopausal women, 57 of whom were early postmenopausal (five years after menopause) and six of whom were mid-postmenopausal (five to ten years after menopause). Bone density data were available for 25 women who took 800 mg of calcium citrate daily and 31 women who received placebo for one to two years. The two groups were similar in baseline age, years postmenopause (3.3 in the calcium citrate group vs 2.7 in the placebo group), height, weight, calcium intake, and L2-L4 bone density. L2-L4 bone density did not change during calcium citrate treatment (+ 1.03% after two years), whereas it declined significantly by -2.38% after two years on placebo (P < .001). Femoral neck bone density did not change in either group. Radial shaft bone density did not change in the calcium citrate group (-0.02% after two years), but it declined significantly in the placebo group (-1.79% after one year and -3.03% after two years, P < .01). The difference in bone density of the L2-L4 vertebrae and radial shaft after two years of treatment was significant between the two groups. An analysis of covariance disclosed no significant effect of calcium citrate on L2-L4 bone density during the first three years after menopause, but a protective effect after three years. Although serum PTH did not change, serum and urinary calcium increased and serum calcitriol and urinary phosphorus decreased in the calcium citrate group, indicative of parathyroid suppression. Serum bone-specific alkaline phosphatase and osteocalcin, and urinary hydroxyproline and N-telopeptide decreased during some calcium citrate treatment periods, indicative of a reduction in bone turnover. Thus, calcium citrate supplementation (400 mg of calcium twice daily) averted bone loss and stabilized bone density in the spine, femoral neck, and radial shaft in women relatively soon after menopause. This bone-sparing action was probably due to the inhibition of bone resorption from parathyroid suppression.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Calcium Citrate / pharmacology*
  • Calcium Citrate / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Femur
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / blood
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / prevention & control*
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / urine
  • Radius
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Calcium Citrate